Many people give fame a try for 15 minutes or so and decide to take a hard pass. After realizing life in the spotlight isn’t their true calling, some go on to pursue surprisingly normal careers.
Last updated: Oct. 5, 2021
Along with his twin brother, Cole, Dylan Sprouse started acting when he was just 8 months old. Best known for their hit television series, “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” the brothers also shared the role of Julian McGrath in “Big Daddy.”
He hasn’t completely turned his back on acting, but these days, Dylan is more focused on brewing. Sprouse co-founded All-Wise Meadery in Brooklyn, New York, where he serves as CEO and head mazer.
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Fondly remembered as Linda Barrett in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” Phoebe Cates had a busy acting career in the ’80s and early ’90s that also included starring roles in “Gremlins” and the cult classic “Drop Dead Fred.” She married fellow thespian Kevin Kline in 1989 and essentially retired from acting to focus on raising their two children.
She’s now living a quiet life in New York City as a boutique owner. Her Blue Tree shop, which opened in 2005, is located in the city’s Carnegie Hill neighborhood, in Manhattan’s prestigious Upper East Side.
Actor Rick Moranis was in his heyday throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, starring in big hits like “Ghostbusters” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” Then, tragedy struck and his wife, Ann, died of breast cancer in 1991.
Moranis stepped away from the cameras and focused his life on being a stay-at-home dad after the tragic passing of his wife — with some voice work thrown into the mix, The Hollywood Reporter reported.
An acting comeback could be on the horizon for Moranis, who stars in “Shrunk” a forthcoming reboot of the ’89 family hit “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids.” In 2020, he also starred in a Mint Mobile commercial with Ryan Reynolds.
Seasoned actor Erik Estrada has nearly 150 credits to his name, but acting isn’t his only focus. He famously played Officer Frank Poncherello in the television series “CHiPs” in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but that clearly left him wanting more.
Fiction met reality in July 2016, when Estrada was sworn in as a police reserve officer in St. Anthony, Idaho. During his time with the department, he helped the department get a police dog and worked to protect children from online predators. He previously served as a reserve officer in Muncie, Indiana and worked as an Internet Crimes Against Children investigator in Virginia.
In 2020, the East Idaho News reported Estrada would soon join the Pocatello Police Department — in Pocatello, Idaho — as a reserve office.
He soared to fame on “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” but Jon Gosselin is now living a different reality. When he and ex-wife Kate divorced in 2009, their hit show was retooled as “Kate Plus 8,” leaving him out of a job.
Determined to make ends meet the old-fashioned way, Gosselin returned to work. Over the years, he’s held a variety of jobs, including waiter, DJ and a cook at TGI Fridays. He’s currently working as an IT Support Associate II at Amazon, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He’s had eight top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, but Al Green is more than just a musician. The “Let’s Stay Together” singer has been the pastor at Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis, Tennessee, for more than 40 years.
Neither the church nor Green appears to have a website. However, several recent TripAdvisor reviews rave about hearing the 11-time Grammy winner preach. His strong faith was evident in a 2016 interview with the news site Commercial Appeal when he revealed he has regular conversations with God.
Still making music, Green released his version of Freddie Fender’s “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” in 2018 — his first recording in almost a decade.
During the ’90s, Andrew Shue starred as Billy Campbell on “Melrose Place.” Despite his successful career, he decided he didn’t want to be an actor.
Already an entrepreneur — he co-founded DoSomething.org in 1993 — Shue used his business instincts to co-found Club Mom, an offline shopping club. This led to the co-founding of social networking site CafeMom and the subsequent CafeMedia, a digital media giant that reaches 164 million monthly U.S. unique visitors, according to its website.
As a child actor, Jeff Cohen rose to fame as Chunk in the “Goonies.” He continued acting until 1991, right before he started college.
Now a lawyer, he co-founded the firm Cohen Gardner LLP in 2002. Located in Beverly Hills, California, the firm represents clients in the entertainment, media and technology industries. Cohen’s book “The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments” was published by the American Bar Association.
In 2001, Willa Ford’s hit song “I Wanna Be Bad” peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100. When her second single failed to take off after its release on Sept. 11, 2001, she decided to step back from the music industry.
These days, Ford works full-time as an interior designer. The founder and head designer of Los Angeles-based WFord Interiors now channels her creative energy into creating beautiful spaces for her clients.
Still a little Hollywood, she was Scott Disick’s interior designer on the reality series “Flip It Like Disick.”
Josh Saviano starred as Paul Pfeiffer on the late ’80s and early ’90s smash hit “The Wonder Years.” After that, he left acting behind, with the exception of a recurring guest stint on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” in recent years.
According to his LinkedIn profile, he spent nearly 12 years as a lawyer at New York City-based Morrison Cohen LLP, where he made partner. Saviano left the firm in 2015 and founded Act 3 Advisors, which provides strategic advice and consulting to clients looking to form a brand. He’s also a founder of Spotlight Advisory Group, designed to support creatives.
He captured hearts as Jake Ryan in the 1984 cult classic “Sixteen Candles,” but Michael Schoeffling wasn’t into acting for the long haul. He retired from show business after appearing in “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken” in 1991 and completely disappeared from the public eye.
In a 1990 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Schoeffling revealed he lived near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and ran a successful furniture-making business from his home. Reporters have tried to track him down since, but their attempts have been unsuccessful.
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An accomplished actress, Karyn Parsons starred as Hilary Banks on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” in the 1990s. By 2002, she took a 16-year break from acting — she starred in the short film “On Monday of Last Week” in 2018 and “Sweet Thing” in 2020 — which gave her time to focus on other passions.
Parsons established the Sweet Blackberry Foundation and currently serves as president of the nonprofit, which strives to bring untold stories of African-American achievements to a child audience.
Peter Ostrum played the lucky boy who found the last golden ticket in 1971’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Despite having the starring role of Charlie in the popular film, Ostrum never acted again. He now works as a veterinarian on dairy farms in upstate New York.
Charlie Korsmo got his big break in 1991 as Jackie in “Hook.” He went on to star in “Can’t Hardly Wait” in 1998 and made a brief return to acting 20 years later in the 2018 film “Chained for Life.” However, nowadays his main focus is working as a law professor. He currently teaches at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
As a child actor, Danny Lloyd starred alongside Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” in 1980. Although Lloyd had a bit part in the film “Doctor Sleep” in 2019, he’s mostly shied away from acting since the film that made him famous. According to his Twitter bio, Lloyd is now a teacher and farmer.
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